Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

A Happy Year for Culver High Athletics


2017-18 was a banner school year for Culver City High School athletics. The Centaurs won not one, but two CIF Championships. Additionally, multiple CIF Semifinal finishes and numerous CIF Playoff seeds across the board reconfirmed a steady increase in student athlete participation and continued success for the school’s 21 athletic programs.

“I’m so happy with the coaches and the student athletes. We have fine coaches, they work very hard and put in a lot of time and effort,” said Culver High Athletic Director Tom Salter. “They have developed fine coaching staffs and take great pride in their work. We have some good young coaches coming up and the veterans that’ll be able to mentor them.

“I can’t say enough about our student athletes. They work hard and do so well in the classroom. They show great competitive spirit on the field, the courts and the pool. We’re so proud of them."

Of the Fall athletic programs, the girls volleyball team under Head Coach Tanner Siegal became the first school program to ever win back-to-back CIF Championships. Their titles continue to mark the success and increasing number of titles associated with the girls’ programs at Culver City High.

The Centaur football under Head Coach Jahmal Wright fell just shy of a CIF Championship as they lost a 57-56 barnstorming heartbreaker at home during a Division 3 Semifinal clash. The high-powered offense constantly lit up the scoreboard throughout the season as they finished in second place in the Ocean League behind league champs Lawndale.

Cross Country under Head Coach Tom Fritzius had seven runners compete in the CIF Division 2 Championships. The team also excelled scholastically, ranking second among all CIF cross country teams in GPA (Grade Point Average), just behind Rancho Cucamonga High.

Girls tennis under Head Coach Phil Rothenberg started off the season winning eight straight team matches and finished with a 9-5-1 record. One notable achievement: the girls beat beat Beverly Hills High for the first time ever. They finished tied for third place in league.

The boys water polo team under Head Coach Nestor Dordoni, Jr. had a rebuilding year ending with a 5-15-1 record. They finished in league behind powers Santa Monica, El Segundo and Beverly Hills. The Cheer and Dance teams under Kandyce Wallace were once again the heart and spirit of all the school’s athletic programs. They once again went to Nationals in Orlando, Florida, a competition they nearly swept four years ago.

Salter: “The sports programs are just one of the great assets of Culver City High School. We have a great AVPA (Academy of Visual Performing Arts) program and great bands, arts and academics. We get excellent support from admin at the high school level and at the District level.”

The Winter programs were championed by Girls Water Polo, under the same Dordoni, Jr. The Centaur girls had a 19-8 record, finished third in a very strong Ocean League and gathered steam leading into the CIF Playoffs. The team won its very first CIF Championship by edging Valencia High, 4-3. The girls honed their mental toughness with close wins throughout the playoffs.

Girls basketball under Head Coach Julian Anderson fell just short of another CIF title as the lost a close one in the CIF Division 3 Semifinals. The team had a 25-7 record and tied for the Ocean League Title with Beverly Hills. They also qualified for State Championships and have won league five of the last six years.

Boys Basketball under first-year Head Coach Reggie Morris had an outstanding season. The Centaurs finished with a 18-10 record and won the Ocean League title for the first time since 1986. The team advanced in the CIF Division 3A Championships before bowing out in the Quarterfinals.

Girls Soccer under Head Coach Pete Bartlett with a 14-4-3 record won the Ocean League title for only third time in school history. The team advanced to the Round 2 of the CIF Division 3 Playoffs. The program has made the playoffs 11 years in row. Boys Soccer under Louie Espeleta finished fourth in league with a 8-10-5 record in a rebuilding year.

Girls Softball under first-year Head Coach Raianna Dobbs set the pace for the Centaurs’ Spring programs. The team reached the in CIF Division 5 Semifinals, losing 6-5 to eventual champion Chaminade. The girls finished second in Ocean League and had an impressive 27-14 overall record.

Despite fielding a squad with six freshmen and five sophomores Culver Baseball under Head Coach Rick Prieto reached the CIF Playoffs for the 17th year in a row. The team tied for third in league and began the season by winning 11 of their 13 non-league games.

Boys tennis under Coach Rothenberg finished third in league with a 9-7 record. The team highlight was a 9-9 tie with South Torrance, only league team to win in first round CIF Playoffs. The Centaurs were rated 10th in their CIF division and continued to play strong programs in its resurgence.

“Now at the Middle School we run the same programs as we do in the high school. Every sport we have in the high school we have in the Middle School except for golf. We are going to start water polo next year at the Middle School,” said Salter.

“We have a lot of success at the Middle School and the programs are overlapping with the high school, which is good. For instance, both Middle School soccer teams won their championships, boys lacrosse won their championship and girls lacrosse finished second. Track’s doing real well. A lot of those teams are coming over.”

The track and field girls under Head Coach Rayfield Beaton took the Ocean League title for the fourth year in a row. Many of the points secured were delivered by a young swift group of freshmen and sophomores. The boys track and field team under Head Coach Jahmal Wright won their second league title in a row. Both teams continue to be strong in the sprinting, hurdling, relays and jumping events.

Boys Volleyball under Head Coach Joe Manzo finished third in the tough Ocean League and had a 15-12 overall record. They lost a 5-set heartbreaker to West Torrance in the CIF Division 3 Playoffs. The golf team took honors when senior Austin Davis won the individual Ocean League title.

Girls Lacrosse under Head Coach Liz Vacovec made it all the way to the CIF Lacrosse Invitational Semifinals. They had the most wins in league competition with six. Boys Lacrosse under Casey Chabola finished second in League. The team made the first round of CIF Lacrosse Invitational Championships.

Swimming under first-year Head Coach Devin Brady showed promise and highlighted Culver City High Athlete of the Year winner, Bart Salvaterra. He placed well in the CIF Division 2 Championships, tying for second in the 50m freestyle with a time of 21.15. He finished eighth in the 100m freestyle event. He also placed first in both events in league finals and second place in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relay events.

Culver City High Principal Dr. Lisa Cooper’s message on the school’s website is a blueprint for the student athlete’s success. The following five school goals guide the instruction and decision making of the school:

1. All students will graduate.

2. All students will be proficient in ELA and Math.

3. All students will be college/career ready

4. All students in 9th grade will earn 60 credits.

5. All students will participate in athletics and/or extra-curricular activities.

“We get great support from Dr. Cooper’s office, DuBois McMillan (CCHS Assistant Principal) and the District level. All the facility upgrades the kids are playing on, the new weight room… they are fantastic facilities,” stated Salter.

“It’s a very positive atmosphere right now. It’s a good, safe school with high academic achievers. A lot of the academic students play sports so we have a very good balance. I think it’s a good time to be a student at Culver City High School.


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